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My previous post about the new GI Bill noted that it was part of the 162 billion supplemental war appropriations legislation. It is unfortunate that it became part of the compromise to continue funding the occupation of Iraq. The human, societal, and economic cost of the occupation of Iraq continue to rise but it is sometimes hard for everyone to understand.

The folks at American Friends Service Committee and Antiwar.com released this short video that gives some meaning to the cost.

 

 

and here is a classic antiwar song, “War” by Edwin Starr set to images from the Vietnam era by YouTube user justine4444.

 

 

Peace & Solidarity,

CHC

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With the passage of the 162 billion Iraq war funding bill last week it appears that the 21st Century GI Bill will become law. The Senate still needs to act on it but the White House has indicated it would sign the legislation. The GI Bill was included in the war funding along with a 13 week extension of unemployment benefits, disaster relief in the amount of $2.65 billion for the Midwest affected by the recent tornadoes and floods, additional money for the construction of military hospitals and some important Iraq policy provisions as noted by Minnesota Central in the comments section.

Senator Jim Webb, co-sponsor of the GI BIll, expressed his gratitude to supporters:

“I would like to again express my appreciation to the veterans’ service organizations, many of whom communicated their support of this bill directly to a skeptical White House, and to the 58 Senate and 302 House cosponsors of this landmark legislation. This bipartisan coalition consistently rejected the allegations of this Administration, and of Senators McCain, Burr and Graham, among others, who claimed that the bill was too generous to our veterans, too difficult to administer and would hurt retention.

“It has now been nearly seven years since 9/11 — seven years since those who have been serving in our military began earning the right for a proper wartime GI Bill. I am looking forward to the President living up to his word, and signing this legislation at his earliest opportunity.”  Read the entire statement here.

DFL Representative Collin Peterson, from the 7th district, which is just a tad more than 60 miles from my corner of the state was a supporter and his comments are covered by the Bemidji Pioneer.

A Bluestem Prairie covers 1st District Congressman’s statement on the passage of the new GI Bill and also comments about the process of getting the legislation passed:

“Like the final passage of the increase in the federal minimum wage, final approval of the New G. I. Bill came–eventually–at the cost of continuing to fund the war in Iraq. Those who feel that Congress should quit funding the war and pull out immediately will be disappointed with Walz’s vote for another amendment to the bill that continued money for the war in Iraq.”
It has been said that making laws is a lot like making sausage. Well, I work in the meat industry and I would consider that an insult. It is tragic that the continued occupation of Iraq was the price to pay. Just about everybody (416-12) in the House of Representatives will be able to pat themselves on the back for supporting the GI Bill. How many more GI’s will they be making eligible for the benefits?
Peace & solidarity,
CHC
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Beaver Creek Cemetery, Beaver Creek, Minnesota

This Memorial Day throughout Minnesota and the rest of the country people will gather at cemeteries to pay their respects and honor the sacrifice of the men and women who served their country in the military and are now at their final resting place. Some died in battle, others years later. Speeches will be made, bands will play, flowers laid and taps played. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. All of them had their lives forever changed. On this day we pause to reflect on the wars and the people who fought them, and hopefully we will also take time to imagine a day without war.

TAPS played by SGM Woody English, U. S. Army Band

 

Peace & solidarity

CHC

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Meanwhile, Minnesota prepares to send more men and women to Iraq. Video here.
UPDATE: Minnesota National Guard press release.
Peace & solidarity,
CHC

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UPDATE: 05/01/2008 #1 son points out in the comments that now 7 of 8 of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have signed on to this legislation. The only holdout is Michelle Bachman. As of this date 261 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as cosponsors. END UPDATE

As hundreds of thousands of men and women return from serving their country in the military they are finding that the current G.I. Bill is woefully inadequate. Senators Jim Webb(D) and Chuck Hagel(R), hope to change that with the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/H.R. 5740). The current list of cosponsors include 58 in the Senate and 250 members of the House. Both of Minnesota’s senators have signed on to the bill. Six of Minnesota’s eight representatives in the House have signed on, including my congressman, Tim Walz. This legislation has bipartisan support and has been endorsed by the following veterans and educational groups:   

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars(VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The American Legion, the Military Officers’Association of America (MOAA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the Partnership for Veterans’ Education, a consortium of military, veterans, and higher education associations such as the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Democratic presidential hopefuls Clinton and Obama are cosponsors. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has introduced alternative legislation which is a slap in the face to our veterans and especially to our national guard and reservists. VoteVets.org issued a press release last week in which they repudiated the McCain-Graham-Burr bill. Here is and excerpt from the press release:

The veterans stated that the McCain-Graham-Burr bill falls flat in its key differences from the Webb-Hagel Bill, which has the support of 57 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.

1) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans’ home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

2) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates second-class veterans, by offering those who serve in the military for 12 years the chance to transfer their education benefits to their children. This says to a veteran who serves for two years and loses both of his legs in combat that his service isn’t as valuable as someone who has served for longer.

3) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold. In the current conflicts, the National Guard and Reserve have served faithfully alongside their active duty compatriots, and deserve equal benefits. Yet, the McCain bill does nothing to reward our Guard and Reservists for their cumulative service. Under the McCain bill, over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserves who have done more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice. 

If this is an example of John McCain’s leadership and support for the troops, then we don’t need him. He is proving once again that he is out of touch with reality.  If we are going to go to war then we must consider all costs, and that includes education.

A fact sheet on S. 22 is available here.

Watch the video from VoteVets.org. 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

   

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It has been five years now since the start of the occupation of Iraq and I could probably fill up your screen with countless links to facts and opinions but instead why don’t you take a few moments and listen to the song, The Green Fields of France by Eric Bogle.

 

 

Also known as No Man’s Land the lyrics are here.

 

Peace and solidarity,

CHC

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The American Friends Service Committee has produced this video called Cost of War. 

We could certainly finish the Lewis and Clark pipeline and even put up a few wind turbines.

For information on their calculations go here.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Jordan, Minnesota native Joshua Anderson was killed in Iraq on Wednesday as the result of a roadside bomb. The 24 year old Army private was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Steward, Georgia. He leaves behind a wife and 3 year old daughter.

Please remember them.

The Jordan Independent and the Star-Tribune have stories.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Thursday, December 26, 2007 was the 145th anniversary of the hanging of 38 members of the Dakota in Mankato, Minnesota. It has the dubious honor of being the largest mass execution in the United States and was the result of  The Dakota Conflict of 1862. The conflict started in the middle of August and by late September hundreds of settlers in southwest Minnesota were dead. By this time thousands of  Dakota were in custody or in exile. A military commission was appointed to try the Dakota and on the day after Christmas in 1862 the 38 were hanged. Originally close to 300 were set to meet the gallows but Abraham Lincoln ordered a review and the number came down to 38. The military commission that tried the Dakota was speedy (over 393 trials in a six week period) and some have questioned the legitimacy of the military commission and the fairness of the trials.  An account of the trials can be read here.
KEYC-TV of Mankato has a story about the event at Reconciliation Park on the 26th in Mankato featuring Bud Lawrence, one of the originators of the effort to start the process of reconciliation. The Mankato Free Press also has a story about the Memorial Run from Fort Snelling in St. Paul to Mankato that takes place every year and retraces the path the 38 condemned men took on the way to their hanging.

About a week ago I read a commentary in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune by John Stiles who is a pastor at the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Oakdale. He takes a look at the story of the hanging of the 38 Dakota and has some compelling thoughts.

Here is an excerpt:
In our increasingly global community, what would happen if we viewed the Dakota Conflict (and wars today) as civil war — wars between brothers and sisters in the human family? What would it mean for how we treat those who are a different color, or who are richer or poorer than we are?
Sure, I run the risk of oversimplifying the geopolitical landscape, but consider a key teaching of both Christians and the Dakota: We are all related. Christians teach about the Body of Christ, where the member who seems weakest is indispensable. The Dakota have the saying Mitakuye Oyasin, which means: “We are all related.” Somehow, in the vast world we live in, our existence vitally depends on one another.
When we finally get it — that it’s “all us” in this world together, that no human being is intrinsically superior to another, that even creation itself is intimately connected to the human family — then we will have learned something about what happened the day after Christmas in 1862.
The commentary is here.
Peace & solidarity
CHC

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